January 30, 2003 - Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) - Atlanta Beat
ATLANTA (January 30, 2003) - Atlanta Beat forward and Chinese International star Sun Wen today announced her retirement from the WUSA. The first overall selection in the inaugural WUSA draft, Sun Wen is retiring after notching seven career goals and three assists for 17 points in an Atlanta Beat uniform. In addition to announcing the retirement of Sun Wen, the Beat also announces the addition of 24 year old German international striker Conny Pohlers.
"It was truly a pleasure and an honor to have Sun Wen on our team," said Beat Head Coach Tom Stone. "Aside from the incredible talent she possesses, her grace and humility is what I will remember most about Sunny. She is special to the entire Atlanta Beat organization and its fans and we will miss her."
The Atlanta Beat selected Sun Wen with the first overall pick on December 10, 2000. Prior to joining the Beat for its first season, Sun Wen underwent knee surgery and spent most of the first half of the 2001 season recovering. She played in obvious pain in 2001 and started only five of 13 games played. She scored one regular season goal in 2001, but followed that up with two important goals in the post season. In the Beat's 3-2 golden goal defeat of the Philadelphia Charge, in the WUSA semifinal, Sun Wen notched the Beat's first goal and provided the game tying assist. She then notched the Beat's third goal and her third of the season in Founders Cup I, eventually a 3-3 tie in regulation with the San Jose CyberRays winning the title in a penalty kick shootout.
She followed up her first year in the WUSA by starting 10 of 18 games she played in, five more games played and started than her 2001 totals. She also notched four goals during the 2002 regular season.
Although Sun Wen is retiring from the WUSA, she will continue to play for the Chinese National Team, as they prepare for the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup being held in China in the Fall of 2003. She notched a goal in China's 2-0 victory over the U.S. Women's National Team on January 26, 2003 in Wuhan, China at the Four Nations Tournament, in which the Chinese National Team took 2nd place behind the U.S. women.
"Unfortunately we only saw glimpses of her greatness, as she fought knee pain throughout her time with the Beat," said Stone. "When the 2003 World Cup became a reality for her, it was decided mutually that she concentrate on getting healthy and playing for her national team in China 2003."
The departure of Sun Wen leaves at least one open roster space for an international discovery player, to be filled by German forward Conny Pohlers. The 24-year old striker is a regular for the German National Team and was captain of the German Under-21 National Team. Pohlers has led the German First Division, the Bundesliga, in goals in each of the last two years, where she plays for Turbine Potsdam. The Bundesliga has recently produced two current WUSA standouts in Carolina Courage forward Birgit Prinz, the Founders Cup II MVP, and Washington Freedom defensive midfielder Steffi Jones.
The addition of Pohlers gives the Beat a speedy finisher to compliment the game of leading scorer Charmaine Hooper. Speed in the attack is one of the main areas of concern for Beat Head Coach Tom Stone, as the team heads into the 2003 season.
"We are very fast in the back but we've had trouble stretching defenses the last two years," said Stone. "The addition of Pohlers gives us that ability and should open up additional opportunities for Hooper, Parlow and Sawa.
In each game I've seen Pohlers play, I've been impressed with the explosiveness and energy she brings. One of our biggest off-season priorities was to acquire a fast forward who can score, so we are very excited to have filled that need with Pohlers. I think our fans will find Pohlers a perfect fit for the Beat."
After finishing 4th in the 2002 regular season, the Beat will have the 5th selection in each of four rounds (5th, 13th, 21st and 29th overall selections) and will also have the 10th overall selection, 2nd in round two. The 10th overall selection came via the trade of Anna Kraus to the San Diego Spirit. The draft is being held Sunday, February 2, 2002, in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Atlanta Beat's 2003 schedule is here and the Beat opens up at home on April 5, 2003, versus the New York Power. Full season tickets as well as a special Five-Game Beat Pack, that features tickets to the most popular games in 2003, are currently available at prices starting at just $99 for all 11 games and $45 for the Five Pack. Individual game tickets will go on sale in February 2003. Call 1-877-SOCCER-1 for additional details and to learn more about all the exciting benefits of being a Beat Season Ticket Holder or Five-Game Beat Pack Member.
The Atlanta Beat is one of eight professional women's soccer teams that make up the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), the world's premier women's soccer league. For more information call 1-877-SOCCER-1 or log onto www.theatlantabeat.com.